LA QUINTA, CA – The 2012 Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation earned one of the most prestigious awards in sports business and events when respected Street & Smith publications SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily named the PGA TOUR golf tournament its Sports Event of the Year at the fifth-annual Sports Business Awards in New York on Wednesday.
As the only golf event nominated in the category, the Humana Challenge beat out a dynamic field that included the 2011 Carrier Classic college basketball game (North Carolina vs. Michigan State), the 2011 NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, Super Bowl XLVI (New England vs. the New York Giants) and UFC 129.
Dawn Suggs, Jim Reed and Pat Bennett ~photo by Pat Krause
“We are greatly honored to receive such an award and we are very humbled to accept this honor,” said Humana Challenge Tournament Chairman Larry Thiel. “When you look at the quality and stature of the nominees here, it simply magnifies the level of this achievement for our event. This award recognizes the level of commitment from not only our staff and volunteers, but the incredible amount of support we received from Humana and President Clinton’s foundation. They are partners in every sense of the word.”
Scott McCarron give a golf demonstration for the kids ~photo by Pat Krause
The Sports Business Awards recognize outstanding achievements in sports business from March 1, 2011 to Feb. 29, 2012. Nominees were selected by the staffs of SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. Sports industry executives and members of the SBJ/SBD staffs then selected the winners in 13 of the 15 categories.
“Winning ‘Sports Event of the Year’ is an unbelievable honor for the Humana Challenge,” said Mike McCallister, Humana Chairman and CEO. “It really speaks to the commitment of our partners and the Coachella Valley community in making this event successful. We were also proud that spectators, fans and viewers rallied around our dream of helping people achieve lifelong well-being that we and the Clinton Foundation worked to emphasize throughout the tournament. We’re humbled by the success of the event and will continue to instill healthy activities throughout the years to come.”
The SBD/SBJ panel recognized the 2012 Humana Challenge on many levels, which included Humana’s and the Clinton Foundation’s roles and structural changes to the event that not only enhanced those roles, but used the event’s iconic status in the community to bring out key messages of health and well-being.
Nick Rigsby shakes hands with Scott McCarron ~photo by Pat Krause
For 2012, the Humana Challenge introduced a revamped format that took the event from five rounds to four. Aside from creating a stronger field – the sixth strongest non-major field compared to 2011 TOUR events — featuring the likes of four-time major champion Phil Mickelson and 2011 FedExCup champion Bill Haas (the 2010 event champion), the event involved the community with a variety of pre-tournament and tournament-week activities which provided an emphasis on health and wellness: “well-being… with a side of golf.”
In its first year as title sponsor, Humana wasted little time bringing that message in a positive, interactive manner to the tournament’s host community, La Quinta, Calif., and the rest of the Coachella Valley. From the outset of its involvement, Humana took it upon itself to promote a healthy and active lifestyle through a variety of ways, ranging from providing pedometers to tournament fans — which resulted in a remarkable 84 million steps being taken tournament week — to building a KaBOOM! multi-generational playground in a disadvantaged area of the Coachella Valley in Thermal, Calif.
Adding to those efforts was a national health and well-being conference — Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation — hosted by the Clinton Foundation in Indian Wells, Calif., at which President William J. Clinton was the keynote speaker.
A presence throughout the week at the tournament, President Clinton used the conference to bring together more than 200 stakeholders from the worlds of health care, public policy, business, education, individual wellness and sports to identify strategies to promote and improve individual healthy lifestyles in the home, the community and the workplace.
One other event entity, Wasserman Media Group, won the award for Best in Talent Representation & Management.
This latest honor from SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily recognizes an event that has earned awards for philanthropy and community service twice in the last six months. Last November, the Humana Challenge’s philanthropic arm – Desert Classic Charities (DCC) – was named the Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation at the National Philanthropy Day Awards luncheon. In April, DCC received the Visionary Award from Coachella Valley charity The Well in the Desert for its donations and continued support.
Since its inception in 1960, Desert Classic Charities has contributed more than $52 million to Eisenhower Medical Center and more than 200 charities. In April, DCC donated a tournament-record $2.055 million to 40 Coachella Valley organizations.
The Humana Challenge, a four-round, 72-hole event, was held Jan. 16-22 at PGA WEST’s Palmer and Nicklaus Private Courses and La Quinta Country Club. It continues to honor and celebrate the legacy of Bob Hope through its presentation of the Bob Hope Memorial Trophy, won for the first time by 2012 champion Mark Wilson.
The Humana Challenge offers the latest tournament information, contests for tickets and other prizes, through its Facebook page – www.facebook.com/HumanaChallenge – and Twitter page – www.twitter.com/HumanaChallenge (@HumanaChallenge). The Humana Challenge encourages the community, golf fans and tournament patrons to become a fan on Facebook and a follower on Twitter.